Even in the new era of the coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc remains dedicated to delivering a rich program to its audience. Since reopening its doors in mid-May following the nationwide lockdown, the Theatre has successfully continued both its own season and the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture program, which together have featured 45 performances of plays, concerts and ballets, including eight premieres and twelve concerts, within the past three months.
In this time, Zajc has also continued its audience development programs. The online performance program “Zajc With You,” which was launched in response to the stay-at-home order as a means of connecting with audiences from a distance, was followed by a second online program, “Zajc With You 2,” which continued through the end of May. Following the reopening of the Theatre, in-person audience development initiatives continued with a successful roundtable event following the premiere of the highly-anticipated play “Practicing Life – Second Time,” part of the Rijeka 2020 program. Audiences were also welcomed to an outdoor presentation promoting the release of a live recording of the opera “Nikola Šubić Zrinjski” by Ivan pl. Zajc and performed by the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc opera company. Beyond these events, the Theatre has also worked to expand its accessibility to diverse audiences by making protective headphones available to audience members with sensitivity to loud noises.
To allow audiences to attend performances while ensuring the safety of both employees and visitors, the Theatre has introduced the de luxe auditorium, which features a modified seating layout to both reduce the number of guests and keep them at a safe distance from one another. Plexiglass has been installed between the theatre boxes, and theatre attendants in masks and gloves distribute hand sanitizer to guests before they enter the auditorium for each performance. It is recommended for guests to wear masks, and for those who do not have their own, specially-designed masks are provided, designed by Manuela Paladin Šabanović and Dobriša Radovanović and created by the Theatre costume department. Additionally, certain concerts and other audience development activities have been held outdoors rather than in the Theatre building.
The Theatre is just days away from the end of the season, but despite the difficulties brought about by the coronavirus, we look forward to launching a new season full of equally rich and diverse programming in the fall, while continuing to abide by every necessary measure to protect the health and safety of our staff and audience.